On 1st October 2018, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (external link) came into force. This legislation has changed the way certain activities involving animals is licensed and regulated. This includes hiring out horse for riding, or instruction in riding.
The new licence will be referred to as an ‘Animal Activity Licence’. In order to obtain a licence, you need to ensure that you meet the specific licence conditions for hiring out horses.
Do I need a licence?
In scope criteria
Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are subject to licensing:
- Businesses which hire out horses for riding or for riding lessons. This includes riding schools and those that hire out horses, trekking, loan horses, pony parties (but only where the ponies are ridden), hunter hirelings, polo/polocrosse instruction and pony hire, pony and donkey rides.
The Regulations specify two example business tests to be considered when determining whether an activity is considered commercial, and therefore within scope. These are, whether the operator:
- Makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or
- Earns any commission or fee from the activity.
Out of scope criteria
Activities that fulfil one or more of the following criteria are not subject to licensing:
- Businesses that run pony parties where none of the ponies are ever ridden – these should be licensed as animal exhibits.
- Activities that are carried out solely for military or police purposes (e.g. riding stables that are used exclusively for these purposes).
- Riding stables that are used exclusively for instructing veterinary students at university for the purpose of their course.
- Individuals who occasionally lend a horse, even if a small fee is charged, where there is no profit made and no intent to make a profit.
Fees and charges
The new legislation has resulted in changes to the animal activity licence fee structure.
These fees have been set in accordance with this legislation.
Making an application
The application form has been produced by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The Licensing Team
PO Box 100
Please note: The appropriate fee should always be paid online before submitting the application.
We are required to carry out an inspection of all premises where licensable activities take place before an application can be determined. A ratings system has also been introduced where you will be given a rating dependant on a specified criteria.
Guidance and conditions
The general conditions set by the legislation are as follows, and also contain helpful guidance on complying with these conditions.
Existing licence holders
Licences held under the current system for riding establishments will continue until the expiry date shown on the licence. Prior to the expiry date of this licence, existing licence holders need to make an application for a licence under the new regulations and comply with the new requirements.
If you are the holder of an existing licence or registration you are advised to familiarise yourself with the new licence conditions, to ensure you are able to comply with these before making an application for a new licence.
We maintain a public register of all the businesses which hold an animal activity licence, a copy of which is available below. This will be updated on a regular basis.